Sunday, March 25, 2012
Rick Santorum’s Strong hold in the South: What does this mean for Mitt Romney’s campaign for the Republican Nomination?
Keywords or Terms: Deep South; Etch-A-Sketch; Evangelical Christians; Republican Alabama; Mississippi; Louisiana, Maryland; District of Columbia; Mormonism; and, Options before the Convention
Now, Republican Rick Santorum needn’t have to incentive voters in Louisiana that much; his message of social conservativeness, already resonates with many in the Bible belt. The Deep South love pro-life message and many of these residents, find it just too difficult to accommodate any man with a Mormon religious background. Religion has a special place in the life of southern residents; and any doubt about that was probably laid to rest with victories and voting culture in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. Were Mitt Romney igniting the message of job creation in Louisiana, Republican voters residing in a state with unemployment two digits below the national average, weren’t going to be listening or buying. Their minds were made up knowing what kind of campaign Mitt Romney was leading and how they value Rick Santorum’s message. Their diversion from Mitt Romney’s campaign message was probably pre-confirmed in Alabama and Mississippi.
Now, where does Mitt Romney’s campaign go from here in the Republican nomination process? The latest results from Louisiana leads or exposés a compelling message that, Republican voters in the South are no fans of Mitt Romney as a Republican flag bearer. The Republican front-runner must understand and appreciate that it is going to take more than overzealous PAC support advert and an inconsistent message to win this group over. Unless he understands that, his campaign is probably moribund in the rest of the southern states. Conservative South hardly subscribes to an Etch-A-Sketch message; these are people who do business with trust and a hand shake for years; who believe a man’s word is as good as gold and live by that precept; these are people ready to go to bat for you, once they believe and trust you. To attempt to win over this group is going to take more than money, for in their own world, money has very little to do with this equation, in a campaign seeking their support and votes.
Extolling values conservative evangelical Christian are committed to is an intrinsic motivation for their support. Rick Santorum knows this as he was cress-crossing that state in the final days before voting in Louisiana. Values of honesty and dependability are deep rooted in the life style of the Southern voters. Etch-A-Sketch Campaign strategy is not a conservative element that Louisianan Republicans are willing to live with. But what other factors causes trepidation and fear among this Republicans: Romney’s willingness to easily abandon his position on many social issues. Interestingly, voters in Maryland and District of Columbia, the next phase of the fight for the Republican nomination may shy away from the deeply conservative evangelical religious values that have played very well in Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi. Does this mean Mitt Romney is safe in Maryland and District of Columbia; or that Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich do not stand a chance in the next phase of the fight? Not necessarily; the campaigns drive to harvest support in the new phase of the fight, may depend on how Rick Santorum and or Newt Gingrich cast the Mitt Romney’s campaign. If these other aspirants are able to continue to hit hard at Mitt Romney as an inconsistent, undependable and unreliable flag bearer, he can end up loosing District of Columbia and or Maryland.
There are two different campaign strategy questions whose answers may enable Mitt Romney move his campaign forward: How can Mitt Romney undermine the stronger support for Rick Santorum in the past month? What if Conservative Republican voters choose to remain with Rick Santorum?
How Can Mitt Romney Undermine the Stronger Support for Rick Santorum in the past Month?
Rick Santorum has had great success in the month of March winning votes and support in Seven States in the Union. Reeling in his successes, Rick Santorum has been emboldened to soldier on until the August Republican Convention in Tampa Florida. He has generated a lot of support for social conservative values that has been absent in Mitt Romney’s campaign, either by design or omission. There are political pundits and strategists who associate Mitt Romney’s design or omission of social conservative message in his campaign as a strategy to help him with independent voters in the fall elections. Newt Gingrich has not been very far in delegate counts either; while not winning as many States as Rick Santorum; he has been acquiring delegates, no matter how minuscule, that will obviously deny Mitt Romney the golden number of delegates to win.
Today, Mitt Romney has to contend with surging Republican opponent(s). While not necessarily aggressive enough, measuring by the delegate counts in already contested states, the results of the delegate spread will remain damning, which ever way Mitt Romney looks at it. Now, it is unfeasible seeing either the next two Republican aspirants acquiring the needed 1144 delegate counts before the Tampa, Florida Republican Convention. Further, if these two Republican Romney's opponents are vowing they are not going to drop out of the race; definitely, Mitt Romney has to find a way to wiggle away or break out of the bound that is preventing him from reaching the golden number of delegate in time. Unless he is able to find the solution(s) to undermine the surging performance of Rick Santorum and probably Newt Gingrich; it is very inevitable that a brokered or negotiated convention is in play, as long as the other aspirants refuse to drop out of the race.
To avoid a possible brokered or negotiated convention, Mitt Romney may want to make a Vice-Presidential offer to Rick Santorum and a cabinet position to Newt Gingrich. Now, this is assuming that these men are willing to subscribe to this offer. What this strategy offers Mitt Romney’s campaign are two folds: 1) Opportunity to harvest support from the South by dealing with his regional deficiency from that region of the country; since Rick Santorum is heavily favored in that part of the union; 2) Opportunity to muscle Newt Gingrich who has been excessively vocal in his campaign against Mitt Romney liberal Republican values. With this offer, Mitt Romney may be able to energize those members of the Tea Party who are strongly against his candidacy; and, who probably have sworn not to support his cause. For this latter group, a brokered or negotiated convention is probably what they will like. Their contention that a better conservative candidate but Mitt Romney is much superior for the Republican Party is probably indelible. To create passion and motivate this latter group to think otherwise or think in the interest of a much peaceful Republican Convention is one of the reasons for the current advanced proposal. Unless this burden of being a labeled North-Eastern Republican liberal, flip-flopper and Etch-A-Sketch presidential nominee is withered out before the general elections, it will be close to impossible for Mitt Romney’s campaign to do well.
How Can Mitt Romney Undermine the Growing Support for Rick Santorum in the month of March?
A tenet of political Insurgence campaign is: Voters are either motivated or not by the campaign message of an insurgent. An important distinction is found in how the prominent or far along aspirants’ message fails to mirror the insurgent. Voters are not necessarily looking for an ideal candidate; rather, they are looking for a prominent candidate that mirrors more of what they like, their values, their convictions, their reservations and more in a candidate they can carrel around for the general elections.
Voters are motivated to support a party's flag bearer, if he or she is found to be a team player, a candidate willing to accept that he or she has some deficiencies and is willing to change or accommodate others or change that will lead to the overall Party’s success. Part of the process of accommodating others or change is, bringing into the fold, his opponents or archetypes. This is often a hard pill to swallow for many front runners; and, in a political campaign that looks so embroiled with mudslinging and name calling, being found to be accommodating of others or a team player may actually be an advantage as it often goes along in benefiting the overall party’s campaign and success. Thus, the front-runner needs to swallow his pride and accept that there are qualities in other candidates, which he does not have.
In any given year of general election, aspirants experience various types of affronts and antagonisms that may ground their campaigns before it takes off. Some form of inconsequential factors, or past behaviors, have been known to sink a political campaign and politician ambition. If in doubt, ask Howard Cain and numerous other candidates that have fallen on their sword because of their past behavior. Relentless antagonisms and or long-drawn out party nomination process are known to have harmed the chances of the flag bearer at long last. Now, there is no one advancing that the nomination process does not have to be competitive; as a matter of fact, a more competitive nomination process prepares better the ultimate party flag bearer in the general elections. However, when the nomination process becomes too long drawn out till all the possible qualities that the front runner has are turned to handicaps and the process is embroiled in a decapitation, then the essence of a long drown out competition is lost and the overall party’s chances are derailed or snuffed out.
Apart from other strategies allude to in the earlier part of the blog, Mitt Romney may explore outside or external rewards that will allow close aspirants to consider his lead as insurmountable. Excessive competition may trigger fear or compel other aspirants to enter into the kamikaze mode of mind as other aspirants feel a sense of despair from not being able to catch up with the front-runner. One or both of them may enter into a frame of mind of my way or the high way. They may work to completely destroy any chance that Mitt Romney may have in the general elections by damaging him to the point of no return. This is often fractal for the party.
The question for the party as a whole is simply this: At what cost? At what cost will the rivalry and competition among the aspirants damage the goal of the Republican Party: to get Democrats out of office. When a front runner focuses so much on his or her ambition at the expense of party’s unity in the general elections, the opportunity of loosing in the general elections, increases, and party’s image is damaged. The Republican front runner may want to consider the options as the campaign and fight among the aspirants continue to the month of June or as far as the convention date. What might happen if a brokered convention is inevitable is that Mitt Romney will end up loosing the general election, since he becomes a weaker candidate coming out of a brokered convention. What if the brokered convention is close to being personal and egregious, the flag bearer still looses, since the contention he comes out off, shows more blatantly his weaknesses and the disarray his party is in. The eye-sore from a brokered convention often leaves a black-eye on the ensuing candidate; a misfortune that time can hardly erase before the big competition.
The time has come for Mitt Romney to get into a negotiation and probably deals with the close up candidate(s) to the run for the required 1144 delegates. What might happen if Romney allows the acrimony between himself and the runner ups to fester? Most likely, the absence of a clear winner at the convention, a brutalized ego and ungrounded readiness to contest against Democrats! What Mitt Romney or any other candidate bearing the Republican flag has to bear after a brokered convention, is the weight of uneasiness, a highly marginalized status, an inability to caress together all likely supporters, even among Republicans who may have held their nose as they go about voting for him, simply because he becomes the default party’s nominee. A deal between Mitt Romney and other aspirants before the convention has the likelihood of elevating the true meaning of party cohesion and commitment of all likely voters in support of the party’s ethos to achieve the required energy and vitality to improve performance in a general election. For now, the choices are out there for front runner Mitt Romney to consider!